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Regions White Paper

Volume 404: debated on Wednesday 30 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what progress his Department has made towards the aim in the White Paper, Your Region, Your Choice, of assessing the balance of staff between the centre and the regions in terms of effective policy design and implementation; and what examples there have been since the publication of the White Paper of the Department deciding between locating new streams of work (a) in and (b) outside London and the South East; [108573]

(2) what progress the Department has made towards the goal set out in the White Paper, Your Region, Your Choice, of (a) ensuring that regional awareness and devolution feature strongly in Civil Service training and development, (b) increasing the mobility of civil servants between headquarters offices, regional offices, and the Government Offices and (c) encouraging interchange between the civil service and organisations in the regions. [108583]

In the Department of Health, over 40 per cent. of the Department's 4,900 staff are now based outside London and the south-east, including nearly 1,000 headquarters staff in Leeds. The Department's regional directors of public health and their teams are based in the Government offices of the regions. In addition, from October 2002, 28 strategic health authorities—located around the country—have assumed a range of functions previously undertaken by the Department. Further progress towards effective decentralisation is a major component of the Department's current change programme, which will in turn be reflected in training and development priorities. In the meantime, staff awareness of regional and devolution issues is being raised by a variety of means, including intranet sites, staff interchange, and extensive day-to-day contact with regional and local services.